Now during a recent trip with 5 friends to Amsterdam I had the pleasure of visiting the Heineken Factory. Although we weren't there for a really hardcore drinking binge we decided a trip to the factory was a must, it would be like going to Egypt and not seeing the pyramids, therefore on the third day of our trip we made an executive decision and off we went.
The factory was originally built as the first Heineken brewery in 1867, It was in use as a brewery until 1988. However In 1991 part of the establishment was torn down and the Heineken Treat and Information Centre was opened in the remaining building. In 2001 the name was then changed to the Heineken Experience as it is today.
First Impressions -
As we drew closer to the factory we could feel the excitement, we were going to a place where they actually made beer. We were wondering what it would be like inside, a few ideas were shared, someone suggested there might a swimming pool of beer, another thought there might be beer carrying oompa Loompa's, we just had no idea what to expect.
As we entered the building we were pleased to see how well maintained it had been and realized this wasn't going to be a the trip we expected, we were actually going to lll...lleee...wait for it....llleeaaa...LEARN something in Amsterdam.
There was a nice little glass cabinet with Heineken bottles dating back since the beginning of time and it showed how the bottles had developed, they even had the newly released tin bottle, which I have to say I loved, lighter and safer to use than a bottle, and I'm sure cheaper to produce.
We approached the paying booth and upon handing over our 11 euro's we were surprised to receive three tokens in return. We looked at it each other as if to say 'What do we do with these'. Luckily local tourist said they are used in exchange for a beer later on in the tour, as you can imagine we had smiles from ear to ear, 11 euro's and 3 free beers, well that's the entrance fee covered already!
Our Experience -
As you walk first go into the magical world of the Heineken factory you can see they are clearly making use of the green theme as displayed on their bottle. There are green neon lights everywhere. There are small pieces of writing describing the history of the factory dotted around the walls which we did actually read, we actually started to get interested in the historical side.
There is then a huge tower you look up, it has a measuring ruler type thing all the way up and it just keeps going way past the 7 meter mark which is where I could see to, very impressive.
After you exit the historical area you go up some green alien looking stairs which I have to say looked a bit tacky, but I was in a beer factory so I was always happy. As you reach the top there is a small waiting area with two doors, you can sit on chairs that are made of Heineken bottles, hundreds of them, it was actually very impressive.
Suddenly loads of people came out of the second door, and we were instructed to go in the first. Inside is a ride where you take the trip through the factory as if you were a bottle. It was actually very cool and as you hold onto the railings the floor bounces you around in time with the huge cinema screen. Although when I looked over at the guy controlling the machine he seemed to be looking at the women a lot...be warned ladies do not wear a low top, the machine bounces a lot...
Upon exiting we came into a huge brewery area which had old brewing machines, they had been buffered up to their original glory and were easily over 20 feet tall, you could still smell the brewing smell which was actually quite horrible, although I'm sure they probably blow that smell in.
After this we came to our first bar, we handed over our first chip and hey presto, we received a free beer. Me and my friend Alex saw a floor in their plan, we slowly tucked our glass into our bags without being seen, there are so many of them dotted around they would have no idea if anyone did (unfortunately I broke mine in my suitcase, yes I know.. what goes around comes around).
After our little pit stop we came to a room where there was a lot of shouting, interested we approached a booth in the corner and saw some guys shouting and swaying. We realized soon after that they were making a video, the camera has an image of either a boat on a river or in a Dutch field and you are projected onto it, music plays and the lyrics are displayed to a famous Dutch song and you basically sing along.
We decided to choose the boat on the river, so there we were poised to sing our hearts out. We appeared on the screen looking like we were sailing down a Dutch canal and the music started. Unfortunately we soon realized we couldn't speak Dutch and we ended up sounding like
As you can imagine Amsterdam was the only word we knew. We soon attracted the crowds because we were singing that loud, it was very amusing. In the same room is a small computer where you can choose to send the video to yourself or a friend via email, which we did.
Then we came to a room that looked like it had alien chairs in it, you sit down and basically watch a TV above your head about the factory, unfortunately these were all full so be prepared to wait a while if you want one. In the next room is a DJ booth area where you can get up on the decks and press some buttons and do some mixing, it was actually quite fun and you feel like you are a DJ in a club.
We next had our second beer, which left us just one token, there wasn't really a great deal to do after this, apart from a small hologram that looked like a train but when you put your hand on it just went straight through, it was actually very amusing, simple minds eh?...
Then you come to the final area which consists of a shop with Heineken merchandise such as glasses, T-shirts, key rings, and if you want you can get your glass engraved for around 3 Euros. The final bar area is next to the shop which was actually much larger than the first two, I think because it's the end you tend to hang around and have a chat with your friends. There are tables to stand around and you simply go up to the bar and grab a beer, they have them pre poured ready.
After leaving here you receive your free gift, which for us was a tin Heineken bottle that opened down the middle to reveal a bottle opener inside, quite a nice free gift.
The Heineken factory is a must see if you are in Amsterdam, it is part of its heritage and for only 11 Euros you cant go wrong, you practically get that back in free goods. You should leave around 3 hours to go around if you really want to see everything it has to offer and get your monies worth. You have to be 18 to go around so be weary if you have children. I loved it there and would happily go back.
Extra note -
The Heineken factory was closed for refurbishment In October 2007 and will open again in October 2008. There is expected to be a mini brewery, tasting bar and the 'Stable Walk', visitors will be able to access the stables to view Heineken's iconic Shire horses from the local area.
Fun Factor - 9/10
Price - 9/10
Repeatability - 7/10